A pastor in Illinois has been charged with grooming a minor for sex by sending the teenager sexually explicit messages on Snapchat, according to authorities.
Joseph Krol of Dawson, the 36-year-old pastor of Rochester First Baptist Church, was arrested last Friday and charged with grooming a 15-year-old minor.
Sergeant Roger Pope with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office explained in comments published by the Herald Review that Krol appeared to try and erase evidence on his phone of the alleged grooming.
“Prior to answering the door, [Krol was] seen grabbing his cellphone and manipulating the buttons while standing in the kitchen area,” stated Pope. “Deputies immediately located his phone, but [Krol] had factory reset the phone in an attempt to wipe all of the data.”
Nevertheless, the parents of the grooming victim provided police with the phone of their child, which included the sexually explicit messages from Krol.
The pastor is accused of having requested nude photos from the minor and having played social media games of a sexually suggestive nature with the child, according to the Herald-Review.
Galilee Baptist Church of Decatur, a congregation that Krol used to pastor, released a statement that was published by WAND News in which they expressed sorrow over the charge.
“We are saddened to hear of the recent allegations made against Dr. Krol. We as a church take these allegations seriously and will cooperate with law enforcement in any investigation,” stated Galilee Baptist Church leadership.
“We are eager to minister to all involved in this situation and will be offering professional counseling services to the victim of the alleged incident. Dr. Krol has not been affiliated with Galilee Baptist Church since June 2021. We are praying for all involved.”
A popular social media app for young people, Snapchat has garnered criticism from some for purportedly not doing enough to safeguard users from sexually exploitative content.
In 2018, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation put Snapchat on its “Dirty Dozen List” of mainstream entities that enable sexual exploitation.
“Snapchat's business model facilitates sexual exploitation yielding hefty profits for the company without any regard for the associated harms,” stated NCOSE at the time.
“While Snapchat has made some minor improvements to allow Discover publishers to age-gate content, Snapchat still does not allow users to opt-out of sexually graphic content or to report Snapchat users that are sending sexually explicit photos and videos, or using their Snapchat app to promote or advertise pornography or prostitution.”
For its 2021 list released in February, NCOSE removed Snapchat following some improvements on user safety, but kept them on a “Watch List” as they felt there remained some issues to be resolved.